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For $150, how does BMW TEST HomeLink Universal Tranceiver Garage Door Opener range?

18936 Views 28 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  e36M3r
How does the BMW technician TEST range on the homelink system?

I could throw a watermelon farther than my homelink signal seems to travel.
Even with the garage door dead ahead, my homelink range is about 20 feet.
Face off at the slightest angle, & range drops to near zero.

I scheduled a BMW Service Appointment, which, the Service Advisor says will cost only $150. Cheap. But wait. I ask what test they perform. He can't find any. I ask if they have an antenna and a receiver with a power meter. Nope. Do they even have range & offset specifications. Nope. So what will they do for this inexpensive test? He says they'll call BMW and ask how to test the homelink system.

Does any of this make sense to you?

Searching Bimmerfest, I find lots of articles ... but not the answer to this question (In keeping with my signature, I'll post these references separately so we collect the knowledge so others also benefit from all my questions).

My question for BMW enthusiasts is:
What does the BMW dealership typically do to test range on a homelink system (other than "Call Home").
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
Hmm, I've never heard of a dealer testing a Homelink before. The one I installed in mine works decent. Range is still half of the regular Genie, but far enough that I don't have to drive up to the door.
Bmw Bimmerfest Homelink Range References:

So all benefit from this effort, here are summaries of RELATED links.

Note:
- Most Homelink posts on Bimmerfest are about PROGRAMMING & CHOICES.
- The summarized posts below are about RANGE & (INSTALLATION) TESTING.
- All Bimmerfest-quoted homelink URLs failed to work properly.
- Therefore there are no Bimmerfest-suggested Homelink URLs quoted below.

TITLE: 3-Series -> E46 (1999 - current) -> homelink short range?
LINK: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94493
- BMW Homelink range is too short (100 feet).
- Radio interference affects the BMW Homelink GDO range.
- The chin trick shows up again in this posting.
- The Homelink free antenna range extender repair worked only marginally.
- Extended range fix is no longer offered by Homelink for BMW automobiles.
- The angle that you hold the transmitter to the car's homelink when
- programming has an effect on the Homelink GDO signal strength output.
- Homelink "clones" the signal of the remote you're trying to program.
- So, weak original remote, weaker homelink signal.
- You can make your own "upgrade" with a piece of foil wrapped around.
-
- Thank you for visiting our HomeLink website and for your inquiry.
- Unfortunately we do not offer that external fix any longer.
- All new Homelink system for BMW (since 2001) have had that
- [range extending] device [already] implemented into the unit.
- I have a few suggestions you might try to help with the issue
- you are having with your Homelink and garage door opener.
-
- Put a new battery in your hand-held transmitter.
- Training the HomeLink system takes more power from the battery
- than when you push the button to open the door.
- Sometimes by putting a new battery in the hand-held transmitter, will
- send a stronger signal and increases the range on the hand held transmitter.
-
- Retrain the HomeLink at different lengths and angles.
- Start by holding the hand-held transmitter 3-4 inches away then 5-6,
- even 6-8 inches from the buttons.
-
- Try a second hand held transmitter with new batteries.
-
- Straighten the antenna wire that hangs down from the garage door
- opener motorhead in the garage.
-
-Try programming all 3 HomeLink buttons.

TITLE: Step by step installation & test of BMW Homelink universal tranceiver.
LINK: http://www.bmwnation.com/ARTICLES/diy/bmwut/bmwut.html
- They show how to obtain & install & test a homelink GDO in a BMW.
- But, their test is only electrical power; not range & offset.

TITLE: Bimmerfest -> 3-Series -> Finally, bot Universal Transceiver
LINK: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9524
- Homelink used to provide a BOOSTER KIT for BMW owners.
- Some BMWs are shielded so that's why a Homelinink Booster Kit is needed.
- Homelink only plays back the signal you gave it (garbage in; garbage out).
- Use a fresh battery in your remote to give Homelink the strongest signal!

TITLE: Homemade super range extender
LINK: http://bmwtips.com/tipsntricks/Homemade%20super%20range%20extender%20here!_files/UGDOrangeextender.htm
- Increases range of Homelink GDO 300% (claimed) by modifying its antenna.

TITLE: Bimmerfest -> 3-Series --> Universal Transmitter
LINK: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10940
- Homelink range is over 100 feet.
- Battery strength of the remote programmer is a key component of range.

TITLE: General BMW -> Anyone with Homelink? Thoughts?
LINK: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47262
- The Homelink receiver is just an X10 unit (dirt cheap & easily found).
- Drawback is VERY short range; range-extending addon is available.
- First program with a fresh battery in the remote.
- Improves range more than half a block away and around a hill.
- Range is over 300 feet with an "improved" replacement from Homelink.

TITLE: The Best of Bimmerfest! -> Do-It-Yourself H.Q. -> Home-made Homelink
LINK: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13660
- Install your actual REMOTE in the spot for the BMW homelink system

TITLE: BMW Model Discussions -> 3-Series -> Hard to Install Homelink?
LINK: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=34649
- Steps on installing your own BMW Homelink universal transceiver.

TITLE: General BMW -> Universal Transceiver
LINK: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=55190
- Dismal range improved by a new unit from Homelink (now range is 200 feet).
- Installed free of charge at the BMW dealership.
- One user got a range on Homelink better than the range from Genie.
- Range on Genie is half a block; range on BMW homelink is near zero.
- Upgrade antenna kit from Homelink will fix the range problem.
- BMW Homelink range is 150 feet by another user.

TITLE: 3-Series -> universal garage opener
LINK: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12259
- Install an actual remote in the place of the BMW headliner Homelink.
- USA 390 Mhz (Europe 433.93 Mhz); European lower power;range five meters.
Mine had about the same range when I installed it... then I saw a tin foil mod that more than trippled it's range!
easy fix, unfortunately the page that hosted the DIY is no longer there.
My range is really poor too. I have to be right up to the door within 10-15 feet before it will work.
A new-in-the-box transmitter lists for $180 -- $140 internet discount price typically.

So for that kind of money, you could just about swap in a new unit. :confused:
shaftdrive said:
... I scheduled a BMW Service Appointment, which, the Service Advisor says will cost only $150. Cheap. But wait. I ask what test they perform. He can't find any...
Try this http://www.bmwdiy.info/ugdo-booster/index.html
Cowboy Bebop said:
Mine had about the same range when I installed it... then I saw a tin foil mod that more than trippled it's range!
easy fix, unfortunately the page that hosted the DIY is no longer there.
Ooh, I need to do that. Anyone know if they still have these booster kits?

Now the range in the 745, on the other hand, is even worse. The transceiver is in the rear-view mirror, so I don't know how I can improve that.
vexed said:
I remember reading here the booster kits disappeared years ago. Looks to mek you could make one from some reynolds wrap.
I'll talk to Vietsb about improving his DIY on this but I happen to have a FAX someone sent me that is a 1:1 representation of that little antenna that the booster kit has in it.

All you need is some aluminium foil although copper tape is better since it is thicker. If you can find thicker aluminum foil, it will help. Otherwise, a piece of posterboard (cereal box?) wrapped in foil will do the trick, too.

If anyone wants to, PM me your FAX number and I'll FAX you what I have. Otherwise, wait for Vietsb to update his page a bit.
vexed said:
I expect that the "official" part was a piece of furnace duct foil tape. That stuff is available at your local home center.

To the original poster - your BMW Center will probably agree to test to see if you can stand on your head if you offer them $150. For an hour of labor they'll probably futz with it and say they can't find anything wrong (with the Homelink, not your headstand :D).
Ågent99 said:
I'll talk to Vietsb about improving his DIY on this but I happen to have a FAX someone sent me that is a 1:1 representation of that little antenna that the booster kit has in it.

All you need is some aluminium foil although copper tape is better since it is thicker. If you can find thicker aluminum foil, it will help. Otherwise, a piece of posterboard (cereal box?) wrapped in foil will do the trick, too.
Take a piece of wire (like 2-3'), strip an inch or so of insulation off of it, lay it on the transmitter and secure it with electrical tape. This is the same thing that the ugdo-booster does. The Z3 units used to come with the piece listed on the booster site (just a thin piece of aluminum), they no longer do. I add the wire trick to all units I build for the Z cars (which mount the transmitter in the armrest so range is even worse).

I also added wire to the antennae on the opener and it added a good amount to the range I have.
After customer service at Genie told me that my opener was "not designed to send a signal through a metal door" I extended the antenna on the receiver outside and it made a huge difference.
AndyM said:
I also added wire to the antennae on the opener and it added a good amount to the range I have.
that is an interesting DIY, but as mentioned the "KIT" is long gone.

the DIY I used was a bit different, you opened the case (snaps together) of the ugdo, then took sone aluminum foil cut into a strip about 9" long x 1.5" wide then folded the foil in half to .75" then in half again till you had a piece 9"x3/8" and this was then attached to the internal antenna of the UGDO.
you wind about 2 inches of the foil arounf the antanna bar, then run the rest out the side of the case and re-close it and put it back into place... that's it, trippled my range!
Inches or feet?

Many solutions seem to create a larger wider longer antenna.
Are there any EEs out there?

Seems to me that foil is cheap.
Why didn't the original designers add the right size antenna in the first place?

I would guess that the wrong size antenna is one which is either too long or too short so what makes us think we can "design" an antenna simply by cramming as much foil as will fit into the opening.
AndyM said:
Take a piece of wire (like 2-3')
We should ask them what a typical garage door is made of?
Mine is made of metal.
vexed said:
Genie told me my opener was "not designed to send a signal through a metal door"
A good set of pics showing this is here.
bmwtips.com/tipsntricks/Homemade%20super%20range%2h1_files/UGDOrangeextender.htm
http://bmwtips.com/tipsntricks/Homemade super range extender here!_files/UGDOrangeextender.htm
Cowboy Bebop said:
aluminum foil cut into a strip about 9" long x 1.5" wide then folded the foil in half to .75" then in half again till you had a piece 9"x3/8" and this was then attached to the internal antenna of the UGDO. you wind about 2 inches of the foil arounf the antanna bar, then run the rest out the side of the case
"Hello, Mr. Shaftdrive? Yeah, this is XXX, your service advisor. We tested that Homelink unit and found the output a little low, so we replaced it. That comes to...let's see here...$180 parts and $150 labor... Right at about $350 with the shop supplies and tax and all. Your car is ready and you can get your keys at the cashier's window. Thanks!"
Terry Kennedy said:
To the original poster - your BMW Center will probably agree to test to see if you can stand on your head if you offer them $150. For an hour of labor they'll probably futz with it and say they can't find anything wrong (with the Homelink, not your headstand :D).
If you did a search the answer is in there.Here goes again.
Had the same problem as you.CALL HomeLink,I don't know the number off hand,Tell them you tried the booster kit and it didn't work.They will send you a new updated transceiver and tell you to take it to your BMW Center and they will install it for you at NO cost to you and send the old transceiver back to them in a prepaid envelope.After doing this my range went from 25 feet to over 200 feet Goodluck
cheers
vern
shaftdrive said:
How does the BMW technician TEST range on the homelink system?

I could throw a watermelon farther than my homelink signal seems to travel.
Even with the garage door dead ahead, my homelink range is about 20 feet.
Face off at the slightest angle, & range drops to near zero.

I scheduled a BMW Service Appointment, which, the Service Advisor says will cost only $150. Cheap. But wait. I ask what test they perform. He can't find any. I ask if they have an antenna and a receiver with a power meter. Nope. Do they even have range & offset specifications. Nope. So what will they do for this inexpensive test? He says they'll call BMW and ask how to test the homelink system.

Does any of this make sense to you?

Searching Bimmerfest, I find lots of articles ... but not the answer to this question (In keeping with my signature, I'll post these references separately so we collect the knowledge so others also benefit from all my questions).

My question for BMW enthusiasts is:
What does the BMW dealership typically do to test range on a homelink system (other than "Call Home").
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
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